EWC Associate Elected Member of Parliament in Sri Lanka

EWC Associate Sri Ranga Jeyaratnam was elected as Member of Parliament in Sri Lanka this April 2010.  Mr. Sri Ranga participated in the 18th New Generation Seminar held in Honolulu, Youngstown and Washington D.C. during September and October of 2008.

The 2010 Sri Lankan parliamentary election was held on April 8 and April 20, 2010, to elect 225 members to Sri Lanka’s 14th Parliament. 14,088,500 Sri Lankans were eligible to vote in the election at 11,102 polling stations. It was the first general election held in Sri Lanka following the conclusion of the 30 year long civil war.

Prior to becoming member of Sri Lankan Parliament, Mr. Sri Ranga served in numerous positions at the Shakthi TV station. Beyond running the channel profitably, Mr. Sri Ranga created and anchored a popular political program called “Minnal” (Lightning) as well as a broadcasting program called “Erimalai” (Volcanoes). Both programs serve as powerful platforms for a free and direct discussion of political agendas, human rights issues and community grievances. They are the first of their kind in Sri Lanka, and the only prominent political programs to run continuously for seven years with the same host, Mr. Sri Ranga. Uniquely conducted in all three languages of the country, they give voice to minority interests and promote a unique cultural identity alongside national integration through a better understanding of one another.

The provocative nature of the programs has resulted in many threats to Mr. Sri Ranga’s life, which have been reported locally as well as internationally by organizations such as Reporters without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Early in his career, Mr. Sri Ranga served as coordinator for Tamil Affairs in the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development and he has also served as a consultant to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (currently the President). He is the only journalist who was selected to cover all peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE during the period 2002-2006. He was invited as a media delegate to the Nordic countries’ UN Convention, The Common Wealth Non-Alliance Summit in September 2006 and to accompany the President and Prime Minister on official trips to India, China, U.S.A, Cuba, South Korea and Pakistan. He attended The 6th Global Forum in Seoul 2005 and the 12th joint meeting of the Korea – Sri Lanka Economic Cooperation Committee and was a Sri Lankan representative to the 8th SAARC meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal. In 2000, Mr. Sri Ranga was one of four former students recognized by the University of Colombo with “The Century Award and Millennium Medal” for outstanding contributions to the country, an honor he shared with a former Prime Minister and Minister of the country. He has received many awards and accolades for his social welfare work, including his yeoman service to the tsunami affected people in his country.

In 2008, the East-West Center invited this rising young leader from Sri Lanka to participate in The New Generation Seminar (NGS) along with other young leaders from the United States and Asia Pacific. The program is developed around a thematic focus and provides participants with an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of Asia Pacific-U.S. developments and challenges, build a regional network and to become leaders with a more international perspective.